Dec 21, 2013
Daniel Ellsberg: Time to Drive Out the Bush Regime
Posted on Sep 16, 2006
But, that?s not all that?s abroad. The Boston Globe editorial on Aug. 31, which criticizes the World Can?t Wait, along with criticizing Rumsfeld in the same terms, links them together—saying that both of them engage in hyperbole and in fact the same hyperbole. Actually Rumsfeld has a quote here that, taken by itself, is the first sentence that I can remember that I agreed with by Donald Rumsfeld. He said that ?before America entered WWII was a time when those who warned of a coming crisis—the rise of fascism and Nazism—were ridiculed and ignored.?
That?s now, that?s us he?s talking about—I would say. We are warning about a coming crisis, and the crisis I?m warning about is Hitler-like aggression such as we?ve already seen from this administration. The attack on Iraq is legally indistinguishable from Hitler?s attack on Poland or France or Norway or Russia. Same aggression—pure crime against the peace—for which people were hanged back in Nuremberg. Critics of the Iraq war, says Rumsfeld, ?seem not to have learned history?s lessons.? Well, I would take the ?not? out of that. It?s only the critics of the Iraq war who seemed to have learned history?s lessons.
But in terms of the domestic situation, of course this country is not Germany in 1938 or 1939. It?s not Germany in 1934. Let me be very specific. It?s not the Germany of July 1933 under Hitler, who had become chancellor as a minority candidate. They were the largest party, but a minority—36% of the vote in January 1933. But by July there was a one-party state; nearly every leader of the social democrats, which had by then been banned, had been jailed or put in a camp. They hadn?t put many Jews in camps yet. The first people put in camps were labor union leaders, especially social democrats and communists in 1933. Thousands, even tens of thousands, had been killed and put in camps by that time. Six months afterwards, Hitler was in power?. I?ll be very specific. Hitler was a fascist, a term that came out of Mussolini really, but Hitler was a proud fascist and his party was a fascist party, a minority—although it came to be a large party during the Depression in December 1932 and January 1933 when he became chancellor. Hitler was a fascist, and signaled what he wanted to do pretty clearly.
But Germany was not a fascist state in January 1933 under Hitler. He had only two ministers in the cabinet. He had Goering—who became his number two man later and was, I believe, minister of the interior in charge of the police in Prussia, the key state in Germany. Hitler had two ministers in the cabinet; it was not a fascist cabinet and it wasn?t a fascist state. It was a fascist state two months later. In between was the Reichstag fire on Feb. 27, which Goering and Hitler blamed on the communists. Whoever did it—and it may have been the Nazis—it was not the communists. That is clear. There is no historical controversy about that, but it was totally blamed on the communists. And that night the Communist Party leaders were imprisoned, scattered, killed—many, many killed, thousands killed—along with the social democrats, who were still for the moment legal.
The situation now, I think, demands of us not business as usual; it demands what was available in this country in 1969. I?ll characterize that very briefly: 5,000 young people went to prison rather then go into the Army (under the draft)—rather then collaborate with the war. I met some of those people on their way to prison. They put in my mind the thought: They?re doing everything they can, nonviolently—they were followers of Martin Luther King, of Thoreau, of Gandhi. Truthfully and nonviolently they are changing their lives, they are giving up their future, their career, they are doing everything they can to avert this war. That?s the right thing to do. What can I do now, what can I do if I?m ready to go to prison? Among other things, I started copying the Pentagon Papers—which did confront me with a possible prison sentence of 115 years—at that point. Was that too much to take on?
I?d been in Vietnam; I?d seen people in combat there. Maybe people here have had that experience. In combat it?s very common to see people risking their lives—giving their lives, giving their bodies, becoming paraplegic like my friend Ron Kovic—for a lie. Bravery and a bad cause are not uncommon—you see it on both sides. Very often, both sides are bad causes, in fact. Doesn?t take a good cause for people in combat to risk their lives for the other people in the squad and for what they have been told is a good cause.
What?s needed at home of course is people who will change their lives and risk their careers and their jobs and their relationships with their families, their bosses, with their church groups, whoever—by taking a stronger stand than those people are ready to take. And by saying truths that those people don?t want to hear. Without that courage, policies like this can?t be changed. With it, they may not be changed, we may fail. But, without that kind of courage and that mass mobilization, there is no chance.
When the time came to distribute the Pentagon Papers, the FBI was searching for me and my wife. For 13 days we were underground, working with a bunch of students mainly, many of whom I?d never met. I knew one person and she knew other people. I didn?t know the other people. And each one of those people was asked—not by me, by some of the others—?we are doing an action that may be very useful. It might shorten the war, but it could be very dangerous legally. Put you in great jeopardy. Are you willing to help?? We couldn?t broadcast what it was beforehand. Not one person said no. That was a time when all you had to do ? in those days you could tell who you could count on, except for a handful of informers. You went to someone with long hair, or young. That?s all it took. And we said, ?Will you help end the war, [even though] it may put you in prison?? ?Yes.? And we went from house to house. The FBI was searching for us, people gave us their rooms. People distributed those papers, everybody did. During that time, 19 newspapers published the Pentagon Papers. Not just The New York Times and the New York Post, who were enjoined, but the St. Louis Post Dispatch, also enjoined for the first time in our history. The Boston Globe enjoined.
There had never been an injunction against a newspaper before. In the face of the president and the attorney general saying every word being published here endangers American lives, endangers our troops in the field, endangers national security—that?s what the president was saying. And every one of those newspapers that had the chance, everyone—nobody turned it down. They looked at it, they read it for themselves. ?It doesn?t look that way to us, that?s not our judgment of the national security, and we don?t agree with the president.? So, they all did it. (Applause).
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